We are currently booked on two med cruises for next summer:
Regal princess Athens to Barcelona, stopping in kotor, Santorini, sicily, naples. We have an aft facing premium deluxe balcony room (233 Sq ft w 41 Sq ft balcony), premium economy flights w one layover from our local airport and then business class on the return (would love to flip that but it’s a solid 5k). Includes booze and wifi… The total is 12k for the cruise and flights. Yes, 12k total. Got one of those top 20 travel deals… 7n. Added costs: excursions, 2n in Athens and 2 in Barcelona and tours for those days, transportation airport to city, city to Port, etc.
The other is the magic, rome to rome 9n w stops in Athens, Santorini, crete, kefalonia, Dubrovnik and naples. We have a gty category 5b (214 Sq ft w 54 Sq ft balcony), but I anticipate that we will be able to snag a 5a or pick a stateroom after pif cancellations. No flights booked. After my commission and agency split, it’ll be 20k if we don’t upgrade. Added costs: flights (!!), excursions, dcl buses rt, wifi, booze (but minimal). We have been to rome a few times so will try not to have to spend the night depending on flights.
The answer from a cost perspective seems obvious, but these are the factors that made me book the DCL:
- Preschool and elementary school aged kids. I have only cruised princess once and it was in Alaska with no kids, but I don’t recall seeing kid friendly stuff.
- We have a travel family “bucket list”, and one of those items is a Greek isles cruise. I’m not sure stopping on one island counts? The dcl has 3 islands, plus Croatia and naples, both on the bucket list (naples is a must because my son is all about pompeii). The dcl checks off 3 items, whereas the princess is more of a sampler that would check off the acropolis and pompeii and sicily but not really the Greek isles. Montenegro (princess) is sort of a bonus, but Croatia (dcl) is def on thr list. Arguably pompeii and sicily are better served w a land tour of Southern Italy vs really needing to be on a ship for ease of travel like the Greek isles. The dcl itinerary is perfect.
- The flight alone will be a challenge w my preschooler, although we took my son to Europe when he was this age and he was fine, she is definitely more… vocal … when she’s tired lol. Adding in 2 nights on either end of the cruise and sleeping in 3 new places (not counting flights) instead of 1 seemed… too ambitious. A 9n cruise is long, but 1 spot to adjust to sleeping, and princesses, and robust kids club offerings for when they are over ancient ruins and we want to spend a solo day on kefalonia, etc.
My only hesitation w dcl is the cost. We have never cruised dcl (I’m the only one who has ever even cruised in the fam), but I know from reading these forums that the onboard experience is the reason for the cost difference… and in the med, I don’t expect to be onboard enough for it to matter.
There is also a 10n NCL Escape cruise and an 8n rcl odyssey that would be between the two in terms of cost but have itineraries closer to but not as perfect as dcl. But the only thing I know about NCL is that there are lots of upcharges, and I like RCI but kids club hours aren’t as good.
We could get a corner suite on the princess cruise and upgrade to business both ways and STILL come in under the dcl costs, but idk that flight class matters too much w a 3yo. We would also prob book suites if we sailed NCL or RCI.
Would love any thoughts from frequent cruisers. I know DCL will be amazing, but it’s looking like 15-20k more than the other options when all is said and done. We CAN afford it, but I could also book a couple more vacations or resurface the driveway lol. But somehow people do it? The princess booking is an AMAZING deal and I would love to see Barcelona too but am tired just thinking about the 2 extra hotels and sleep transitions.
Will the kids club experience on DCL be worth the upcharge? My son will be fine wherever as long as there’s a waterslide and video game room.
Thanks for reading and in advance for any experiences you can share on kids clubs in the various ships and the upcharge.